The third time was the charm for Johanna Konta, as the two-time Nottingham runner-up at last claimed the title at the Viking Open Nottingham.
The No.1 seed from Great Britain charged past No.4 seed Zhang Shuai of China, 6-2, 6-1 to hoist the trophy for her fourth career WTA singles title, and her first title on grass.
"I feel very grateful, very fortunate for the match I played today, and also very fortunate for the matches I played throughout the week to put myself into a position to even be playing for the title," Konta told the press, after her win. "To be back in the final, it’s a privilege, and I feel very lucky and I’m really pleased."
The victory puts former World No.4 Konta back into the winner’s circle on tour for the first time in over four years. Konta’s last title came at the 2017 Miami Open.
Konta also ended a 40-year drought for British players winning trophies in Great Britain. The top seed became the first British player to win a title on home soil since 1981, when Sue Barker was the champion in Brighton.
"Only one person gets to win the tournament at the end of the week, so the odds aren’t in anyone’s favor, really," Konta said. "In that sense, it’s hard to win tournaments, so that’s why I feel very grateful. And to do it at home, on the grass, in front of a home crowd, it’s an experience I haven’t had yet, and I’m really grateful to be having right now."
Playing in Nottingham for the first time since her back-to-back finals in 2017 and 2018, Konta dominated the 58-minute romp, improving her stellar win-loss record against Zhang to 6-1.
Zhang actually had more winners than unforced errors (14 to 13) but Konta was unstoppable on the day, finishing the clash with 25 winners to just four unforced errors. Konta was never broken and faced only a single break point in the affair.
Konta slammed 12 of her winners in the first set as she charged ahead to the victory. The Brit stared down the single break point she faced in her first service game, then held on before breaking for 2-1 with a powerful overhead.
The top seed demonstrated variety throughout the day as she earned a double-break lead by deploying a dropshot winner on break point, surging ahead 4-1. Two games later, Konta closed out the set by smashing back-to-back aces.
Zhang held her serve to start the second set, but that would be the extent of the former Wimbledon quarterfinalist’s winning ways, as Konta took over from there. The Brit reeled off the final six games of the match to pick up her first grasscourt title.
Earlier on Sunday, No.3 seeds Lyudmyla Kichenok and Makoto Ninomiya were crowned Viking Open Nottingham doubles champions after they edged No.2 seeds Caroline Dolehide and Storm Sanders, 6-4, 6-7(3), [10-8] in one hour and 41 minutes.
"It was ups and downs," Kichenok said, following their victory. "We were a little bit more lucky in the first set, I think. It’s 10-8 in the final deciding set, I still cannot put two and two together how we won it!"
The teams had nearly identically effective serving and returning statistics and the closely-contested clash came down to just a few points, before Kichenok and Ninomiya converted their third match point in a 16-minute match-tiebreak.
It is Kichenok's fifth WTA doubles title and Ninomiya's third, though their first as a pairing.
"I think we are a good combination because [Ninomiya] plays really good at the net, she has really good volleys, and I can hold the baseline," said Kichenok. "It works pretty good for us, and we were playing really good this week."